Illegal Tender

"Bad"

Illegal Tender Review


When the production credits that open writer/director Franc. Reyes' (we don't understand the period, either) crime drama Illegal Tender appear in gloriously cheesy '70s blaxploitation font with an equally gaudy title graphic depicting a sexy silhouette inside a dollar sign, the anticipation of either a riveting throwback or tongue-in-cheek parody appears. Either of these options would have been better than the nothing that follows.

For the first 15 minutes we're treated to the back story of '80s gangster Wilson Deleon Sr. (Manny Perez), a hard-working, merciful Bronx drug dealer just trying to make his way in this crazy world. He has a child on the way; her shrewd mother, Millie (Wanda De Jesus) has just laundered all his street earnings into a sizeable nest egg. Of course, on the night she tells him to stay in, he goes out and, of course, that's the night she delivers and, of course, that's the night his crew betrays him and two ridiculously buxom assassins gun him down.

Cut to 21 years later and Wilson Jr. (Rick Gonzalez) is a preppy young college student with a beautiful girlfriend, Ana (Dania Ramirez) and a cute little brother, Randy (Antonio Ortiz) from one of Millie's slew of post-Wilson Sr. lovers. Now living in the 'burbs under the assumption that no one from New York can find you in Connecticut, Millie nevertheless runs into one of the buxom killers, now older and with a deflated boob job, in a supermarket, and it's time to skip town.

Wilson finds it suspicious that this is the third time his family has had to move suddenly and demands an explanation. When the past finally comes to light, he travels to Puerto Rico to confront the man (Gary Perez) who had his father killed, a plot point which, like most elements of the film, sounds much more interesting than it actually turns out to be.

Part of the problem is that the movie never really decides what it wants to be. It could be a comedy, with buttoned-down Wilson learning how to be a criminal, as suggested by one awkward target practice scene. It could be a coming-of-age film, with a young Latino slapped with the hyper-Anglo moniker of "Wilson," learning about his roots in Puerto Rico, like some sort of ultra-violent Namesake. Or it could just be a straight-up gangster film, with gritty locations and compelling characters.

It commits to none of these paths nor does it choose any interesting alternative. Not helping matters is the generally poor, cliché-ridden dialogue ("I may look like my father, but I'm not him.") and weak acting. De Jesus, admittedly done no favors by the script, comes off as Pam Grier lite.

The only one to brush the dirt off his shoulders to some extent is Gonzalez, who seems to be in another movie, if only in his own head. His conviction is frustrating because it seems wasted on a lackluster project. He shows the ability to carry a film, as promised by his supporting turns in The Rookie, Old School, and the television show Reaper. Unfortunately, this film has nothing for him to carry.

Illegal Tender isn't the first movie to have little to rely on plot-wise than melodrama and guns, but directors like Quentin Tarantino and John Woo have spun that into cinematic gold. It could be argued that even the source material for The Godfather isn't much more than unusually violent soap opera. Reyes has taken many of the same ingredients but added no spice of his own, making the bland result accordingly forgettable.

Shake shake shake.



Illegal Tender

Facts and Figures

Run time: 108 mins

In Theaters: Friday 24th August 2007

Box Office USA: $3.1M

Box Office Worldwide: $3.1M

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 16%
Fresh: 8 Rotten: 41

IMDB: 5.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Franc. Reyes

Producer:

Starring: as Wilson Jr., as Millie DeLeon, as Ana, as Jessenia, as Wilson DeLeon Sr., Gary Perez as Javier Cordero, as Choco

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

Advertisement
The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.